It has been a long time since a law has divided Quebec as deeply as Bill 21. One of the most reliable indicators to distinguish those who support the law from those who don’t is a sense of personal vulnerability. Given the direct correlation between vulnerability and minority status within Quebec society, it is not surprising that many ELAN members feel uncomfortable with Bill 21, and the way it was adopted.
When I was a child, my parents used a very simple method to teach fairness. One child would cut desert into equal portions. Then the other children would choose first, the cutter last. It was an object lesson in functional democracy.
Issues can be democratically decided by a majority vote when they affect all citizens equally. Issues that affect citizens unequally require a more even-handed, far-sighted approach. If one minority’s freedom can be restricted today, tomorrow a different minority will suffer. Someday, on some issue, we will all be in a minority situation, and when that day comes it is painfully clear why the people cutting the cake should not have a monopoly on choosing who gets the biggest pieces.
Mercifully, we live in a society where even contentious issues can be debated respectfully because we all, in a very real way, can identify with being part of a vulnerable minority. Wishing you all a splendid summer.